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Wiltshire Police Federation

Amesbury incident: Police confirm Novichok exposure

4 July 2018

Salisbury Journal

A MAN and woman in critical condition in hosital were exposed to the same nerve agent used to poison the Skripals, police have confirmed.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu confirmed the substance was Novichok. 

He said: "This evening we have received test results from Porton Down that show the two people have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok."

The ambulance service was called to Muggleton Road on Saturday (June 30) at about 10.15am where a 44-year-old woman had collapsed. She was taken to hospital.

The pair have been named locally as Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess.

They are being treated at Salisbury District Hospital.

Police had initally thought the pair they had fallen ill after using drugs from a potentially contaminated batch.

ACSO Basu said: "Following the detailed analysis of these samples, we can confirm that the man and woman have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok, which has been identified as the same nerve agent that contaminated both Yulia and Sergei Skripal."

He said both patients remain in a critical condition, adding: "At this stage, no-one else has presented with the same symptoms linked to this incident.

"The priority for the investigation team now, is to establish how these two people have come into contact with this nerve agent."

About 100 detectives from the Counter Terrorism Policing Network are now working with Wiltshire Police.

A number of sites in Amesbury and Salisbury that the two visited before they fell ill, have been cordoned off.

The bus depot in Salisbury has also been closed.

Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury, a property at John Baker House, Rolleston Street, Salisbury, a Muggleton Road property, Boots the Chemist, Stonehenge Walk, Amesbury and Amesbury Baptist Centre have also been cordoned off. 

"I do want to reassure the public, however, that there is no evidence that either the man or woman recently visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

"I appreciate that there will be a great deal of speculation as to whether this incident is linked to the events in Salisbury in March.

"I would add that the complex investigation into the attempted murders of Yulia and Sergei remains ongoing and detectives continue to sift through and assess all the available evidence and are following every possible lead to identify those responsible, for what remains a reckless and barbaric criminal act.

"However, I must say that we are not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skripals were exposed to. The possibility that these two investigations might be linked is clearly a line of enquiry for us.

"It is important, however, that the investigation is led by the evidence available and the facts alone and we don’t make any assumptions."

The investigation team is working closely with experts from Public Health England. it is not believed that there is a significant health risk to the wider public.

Wiltshire Police Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said: “We cannot underestimate the impact the shocking news of a second major incident in this part of our county in such a short space of time will have. The communities in Salisbury and Amesbury have shown extraordinary resilience and spirit since the events of March 4 and I have no doubt they will rise to this latest challenge in the same way.

“I fully appreciate the effect the cordons will  have on local people and businesses. Please let me reassure you that my officers and staff, partner agencies and our colleagues at the Counter Terrorism Policing network will do all we can to progress this investigation and help return the communities of Amesbury and Salisbury back to normality."